Ending The Armed Conflict In The Republic Of Congo

Ending The Armed Conflict In The Republic Of Congo

Year(s): 1994 – 1999.

Location: Republic of Congo

UN Regional Group: Africa.

Type of Conflict: Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict with Foreign Involvement.

Type of Initiative: Diplomacy and the mediation of a peace agreement.

Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Government of Gabon.

Impact: Limited.

Summary: A series of peace agreements mediated by the Government of Gabon brought an end to the armed conflict that engulfed the Republic of Congo during the 1990s.

Description of Case 

The Republic of Congo held its first multi-party elections in 1992. Although the election itself went ahead peacefully, the results were disputed, and the three main political parties in the country raised militias. Within months, a complex armed conflict was taking place between three sizeable armed groups and the Congolese armed forces. A ceasefire was reached in January 1994, allowing more comprehensive peace talks hosted by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the governments of France and Gabon to begin.[1] Efforts to resolve the conflict at this stage were ultimately unsuccessful and, in the months prior to the 1997 presidential election, the fighting erupted once again, devastating the capital, Brazzaville.[2] An additional layer of complexity was added to the conflict when veterans of conflicts in Angola and Chad entered the fray, providing the necessary impetus to bring former president Denis Sassou-Nguessou back into power in Brazzaville.[3]

The first steps towards peace were made in 1998, when the Government of Republic of Congo invited 1,420 delegates to hold a National Forum for Reconciliation. The Forum adopted an interim constitution and nominated a transitional administration to run the country until elections scheduled three years hence could produce an elected government. Before any more progress could be made, however, the fighting erupted again and by December 1998, much of the country was engulfed in conflict.[4] Fresh peace talks were again led by the Government of Gabon in 1999, culminating with the Agreement on Ending Hostilities in the Republic of Congo.[5] The Agreement was comprehensive, stipulating far-reaching reforms, amnesty for combatants, and an extensive Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration programme, in addition to formally launching a fresh national dialogue to produce a new constitution.[6] In March-April 2001, this nationwide consultation and dialogue process regarding the constitution was held and, once complete, the new document was promulgated by the Congolese parliament in September. Initial efforts to build stability were largely successful, returning 30,000 combatants to civilian life by September 2001 and integrating 8,000 more into the armed forces.[7] These initiatives ended the intrastate conflict in Republic of Congo, but fighting erupted once again in March 2002 between government forces and a final armed group, which managed to retain control of the Pool region.[8] Renewed clashes following the 2016 elections threatened a return to war until a final ceasefire was signed in 2017, bringing the Republic of the Congo a step closer to peace.[9]

1] UN Country Team. UN Plan: Together from the Ground Up – Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). (Brazzaville: UN, 2002) p.10

[2] UCDP. Congo: Government. (UCDP, 2020) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/408 (Accessed 23/11/2020)

[3] Howard W. French. “Rebels, Backed by Angola, Take Brazzaville and Oil Port.” The New York Times. (1997) Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/16/world/rebels-backed-by-angola-take-brazzaville-and-oil-port.html (Accessed 23/11/2020)

[4] UN Country Team. UN Plan. p.10

[5] Accord de cessation des hostilitiés en République du Congo, 1999. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/congo-cessationhostilities99 (Accessed 23/11/2020)

[6] Peace Accords Matrix. Agreement on Ending Hostilities in the Republic of Congo. (University of Notre Dame, 2020) Available at: https://peaceaccords.nd.edu/accord/agreement-on-ending-hostilities-in-the-republic-of-congo (Accessed 23/11/2020)

[7] UCDP. Congo: Government.

[8] Philip Kleinfeld. “UPDATED: Congo-Brazzaville’s hidden war.” The New Humanitarian. (2018) Available at: https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/special-report/2018/06/18/updated-congo-brazzaville-s-hidden-war (Accessed 23/11/2020)

[9] Le Monde with AFP. “Au Congo-Brazzaville, un cessez-le-feu signé avec les rebelles de la région du Pool.” Le Monde. (2017) Available at: https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/12/23/rdc-un-cessez-le-feu-signe-avec-les-rebelles-de-la-region-du-pool_5233990_3212.html (Accessed 23/11/2020)